The Chinese government is not open or transparent when it comes to human rights and government statistics, but NowThis News declined to consider potential bias from Chinese government statistics on the coronavirus.
NowThis News offered no opposition to the Chinese government’s claims that it had zero domestic cases of coronavirus. Its headline, “Wuhan, Epicenter of Coronavirus, Eases Restrictions as Cases Decrease,” also portrayed a positive image of China’s battle against the virus’s spread.
Local provincial officials in Hubei, which is where Wuhan, China is located, announced they will lift travel restrictions for healthy residents in early April. NowThis News cited official Chinese government statistics, which claimed that it had no “new cases reported for five consecutive days since March 19.”
The Chinese government imposed stringent restrictions on travel and placed the Hubei province and others on lockdown and those measures could have limited the virus’s spread. But NowThis News should not have accepted Chinese government statistics without question. It is problematic because authoritarian governments like China tend to fudge data and limit transparency.
Also, NowThis News ignored the Chinese government’s anti-American conspiracy theories. One of the theories claimed that the U.S. military spread the virus among the Chinese. This specific theory has been debunked by public health officials, who pointed to the virus’s origin in Wuhan, China. The government also suppressed information about the virus last year, which contributed to its spread on a global level.
The media, including NowThis News, should be skeptical of Chinese government-sourced data and claims because of the government’s lack of credibility, promotion of conspiracy theories, and initial cover-up of the virus’ spread.